In June of 2005, a 16 year old student at White Station High School in Memphis, TN posted a message on his MySpace page. That student’s name was Zach Stark, and his message explained that his parents had sat him down for a long talk, in which they told him he would be attending fundamentalist Christian boot camp for gay teenagers. The program he described was known as Refuge. This program was a 2 week camp orchestrated by the ex-gay ministry known as Love In Action, which was based in Memphis at the time. Throughout this camp experience, gay teens were taught to be straight through a series of controversial Christian-influenced lessons.
Stark’s MySpace post inspired local teens and LGBT advocates to come out in support of fellow gay teens within the local community. Stark had also inspired enough former members of the Refuge program to speak about their experiences, particularly the difficulty of being gay and living in a fundamentalist Christian environment. The protests eventually made international headlines, following a story in the New York Times. Through interviews, news clippings, and archive footage, this documentary aims to shine a light on the experiences of Zach Stark and many like him, who have been subjected to various forms of gay conversion therapy.
“This Is What Love In Action Looks Like is a moving and hopeful journey into this world, both in terms of its central story and the interviews with those who’ve been through ex-gay therapy.”
— Big Gay Picture Show
“Its attempts to inoculate minors, who had been forced or coerced to attend the course, against the gay lifestyle was judged to be illegal, and Love in Action’s ‘Refuge’ course was finally shut down in 2007.”
— Eye For Film
Did You Know?
Love In Action, the ex-gay conversion group at the centre of This Is What Love In Action Looks Like, actually closed their doors on the controversial Refuge program following filming. In 2009, Love In Action liquidated all of their real estate assets and began the process of winding down the operation of their residential programs. John Smid, the former director of Love In Action eventually came out as gay and married his partner in 2014. Review our Gay Themed Films Here